D-Lib Magazine
January 1996
ISSN 1082-9873

Project Briefings and Updates

Integrated Document Access (IDA) Project

Contributed by:

Margaret Colmer
Research Assistant, University of South Australia

The overall intention of the Integrated Document Access (IDA) project is to review recent trends in information retrieval and resource discovery for research and teaching information, in order to determine appropriate frameworks for national implementation. The first stage of the project is currently being carried out by the University of South Australia. Stage 1 of the project is essentially a scoping study, critically examining current projects and search tools; and making recommendations as to further testing of particular retrieval tools. Stage 2 of the project will take the form of a testbed study. The project is being conducted on behalf of the Council of Australian University Librarians and the National Library of Australia and funding for stage 1 of the project has been provided by the Department of Employment, Education and Training's Evaluations and Investigations Program.

Specifically, the first stage of the project is comprised of two main tasks. The first task of the project is to identify and describe: current document delivery projects; finding tools and indexes used for research; and projects that integrate indexes/search tools for print and electronic publications. Suitable projects are being identified through Internet searching and a traditional literature review, in addition to information provided by the IDA project Advisory Team. Projects examined to date fall into the following categories: interfaces, navigation aids, integrated databases, cataloging projects, electronic/digital/virtual libraries, gateway services and electronic publishing projects.

The second task is to evaluate the relevance of these projects for information retrieval/resource discovery in Australian tertiary institutions and to recommend an integrated information delivery model for research information that can be trialed via a testbed study. Relevant resource discovery projects will be evaluated by examining features such as: developmental stage, accessibility, authority, search capabilities and user friendliness. In this second part of the project, feedback and contributions from people working in these fields is crucial to the success of the project. A database is being built of these national and international `experts' which will be used to officially request participation and comment on the project.

It is intended that the final IDA project report and all other documentation of the project will be available on the project website, as well as being available in hard copy. The final report will include an inventory of pilot projects, an annotated bibliography, an inventory of existing software, and a resource list of contacts and organisations.

While the intended outcome for the research is the design of recommendations for a test system specifically for research and teaching information, it is also intended to be easily accessible and applicable across a range of levels.

The IDA project is a particularly challenging project, raising many interesting intellectual questions for exploration. For example the project team has had to determine how best to develop some structure and form to apply to the diverse, fluid and ever changing information on the Internet. Other questions raised in the project that must be addressed include consideration as to whether the Internet has changed the types of information available and how it has influenced information-seeking behaviour. Much time has also been spent on debating definitions of the current jargon of information retrieval/resource discovery and tracing the often changing meanings of the relevant terminology.

Information gathered during the project is available at the IDA web site located at http://www.ida.unisa.edu.au/. This web site is being used to collect information about relevant projects, encourage feedback on the project from the library and information networking communities, and to facilitate broad debate on the issue of information retrieval. All interested individuals are invited to participate, either by participating in the IDA electronic list or by exploring the website and providing feedback on the evaluations of specific projects. The IDA web site will undergo substantial, rapid and continual change over January, making this a key time to investigate the website and thereby the project.

Further information is available on the website or by contacting Margaret Colmer at Margaret.Colmer@unisa.edu.au.

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